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The Best Hunting Stories Ever Told

The Best Hunting Stories Ever Told

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The Best Hunting Stories Ever Told

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1,176 pagine
17 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Sep 8, 2010
ISBN:
9781628731118
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Follow the trails of hunters—the original storytellers—as they interpret signs, examine tracks, and chase and catch their prey (or fail to). Readers can curl up with the best authentic hunting fiction and non-fiction, bringing the great Mount Kenya and the prairies of the American Bison into your living room. From Theodore Roosevelt and Gene Hill to Rick Bass and Charles Dickens, remember classic hunting tales and discover new stories of hunters’ luck, camaraderie, and use of smarts on the trail. The thrill of the chase and the passion for outdoor living are elegantly brought together in this exquisite volume, certain to delight both hunters and short-story aficionados.

With work by more than one hundred of the world’s most eminent authors and hunters, including:
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Zane Grey
  • Ted Nugent
  • Aldo Leopold
  • Rick Bass
  • Philip Caputo
  • Geoffrey Norman
  • Gene Hill
  • And many more!
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Sep 8, 2010
ISBN:
9781628731118
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Tom McIntyre has written hundreds of articles appearing in Sports Afield, Field & Stream, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Petersen’s Hunting, American Hunter, Men’s Journal, Outdoor Life, Bugle, Sporting Classics, Fly Rod & Reel as well as in a score of anthologies. Tom is on the mastheads as a contributing editor of both Sports Afield and Field & Stream magazines. He resides in Sheridan, Wyoming.

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The Best Hunting Stories Ever Told - Thomas McIntyre

Acknowledgments

Introduction

THOMAS MCINTYRE

Why should I not be serious? I am speaking of hunting.

—General Zaroff, The Most Dangerous Game, Richard Connell

This will be a brief introduction because I don’t want to delay you from making your way into the storytelling—storytelling being, of course, the earliest form of art and the one emerging directly from the hunt. The tales in this exceptional compendium reflect the wide diversity of the hunting experience. Yet while each is unique, they all follow a similar set of tracks, deriving from the identical coil of racing heart and illuminating soul, the spark of which is traced to the first of our ancient hunting fathers. Not only the original storyteller, this hunter was also, perforce, the original reader—of spoor, light, wind, and more. He was the earth’s initial interpreter of abstract signs, precursors to the black letters and words marked, like hoof- and pawprints, across the pages you now hold in your hands. So the reading of this book is also, like the hunt, being on the trail, giving chase to an object of pursuit.

It would seem right, then, to wish the reader good hunting. The old cacciatori of Italy ’s Piedmont, though, accounted it the very worst of luck to express such a sentiment. Instead they made another petition, to camouflage their true intentions: In bocca al lupo, Fall into the jaws of the wolf! May you, as well, and with great pleasure.

PART I

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt: America’s Greatest Hunter/Conservationist

JIM CASADA

Throughout his years, Theodore Roosevelt strove to live what he called the strenuous life. Following that credo, he was, at various times in his career, a soldier, diplomat, politician, author, reformer, and visionar y—a true Renaissance man. Yet if one sought for bright, shining threads that ran through the fabric of his entire life, none would stand out more vividly than his love of hunting and his staunch commitment to conservation. The more one learns of his activities in these areas, the greater becomes one’s appreciation of his zest for life and incredible accomplishments.

Born on October 27, 1858, in New York City, young Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., enjoyed many of the privileges associated with being the child of affluent parents, but from a tender age he also had firsthand acquaintance with adversity. A sickly, asthmatic lad, he faced health problems throughout his adolescent years. At an early age though, TR demonstrated the dogged perseverance that would characterize him as a hunter and in so many other arenas, saying simply: I’ ll make my body. Through boxing, wrestling, horseback riding, climbing, rowing, swimming, hiking, camping, and most of all, hunting, he did just that.

His father, although the owner of some lovely guns (such as a set of W. W. Greener percussion pistols and a Lefaucheux pinfire 12-gauge shotgun), had little interest in the outdoors. Instead, young Theodore found inspiration in the novels of Mayne Reid, books on exploration by the likes of Dr. David Livingstone, and in the accounts of African hunting by Roualeyn Gordon-Cumming and Sir Samuel Baker. His mentor for outdoor pursuits, at least at the outset, was his uncle, Robert Barnwell Roosevelt. A respected authority on fishing and ichthyology, he also wrote two hunting-related books, Game Birds of the Coasts and Florida and the Game Water Birds. As a long-time member of the New York Fish and Game Commission and some one who was quite active in politics, Uncle Robert probably had much more to do in shaping TR’s philosophical outlook than did his father.

Another influential figure in shaping his perspectives and nurturing the budding outdoorsman was a Maine guide, outfitter, and lumberman, Bill Sewall. Even as Roosevelt was proving himself, as a collegian, an individual of great intellect possessing an exceptional work ethic (he earned a Phi Beta Kappa key at Har vard), he spent summers in the Maine wilderness. The first of these adventures came in 1878, following his father’s death late in the previous year. Its original intent was, likely, simple escape from the sorrow that threatened to consume the young man, but TR’s linkage with Sewall proved to be a real watershed in his life.

Sewall initially saw him as a thin, pale youngster with bad eyes and a weak heart, and he fully expected three weeks of nursemaiding lay before him. Furthermore, by his own admission Roosevelt shot so poorly that he was moved to comment I am disgusted with myself. Yet the tenacity and sheer determination to succeed, no matter what the odds, which would become hallmarks of his career, served him well, and he insisted on arduous dawn-to-dusk activity every day. His confidence blossomed, as did his hardiness, and two subsequent Maine outings, both in 1879, added immensely to his education in the school of the outdoors.

Meanwhile, TR completed his undergraduate studies. With graduation a time for momentous decisions was at hand. Before considering these—graduate study, a career path, possibly marriage, and other matters—Roosevelt took an extended hunting trip in company with his brother, Elliott. This type of escape to the wilderness and engagement in what he described as manly pursuits would become a prominent feature of his entire life. On this occasion and many subsequent ones, when faced by pressures in his personal or political life, TR would find that the solitude of the wild world, often shared with a close companion, was the ideal way to clear his mind and strengthen his resolve when critical decisions lay before him. During this particular trip, the brothers hunted upland birds and small game. TR treated himself to a new shotgun, and he got his first taste of the West, a region that would exert magnetic influence on him the rest of his life.

In his heart of hearts, he found that nothing held as much appeal for him as sport. Indeed, when writing of an 1883 trip on the Little Missouri River, he commented: I am fond of politics, but fonder still of a little big-game hunting. This was quite introspective as well as being a statement of simple reality. As Paul Cutright would note in the preface to his book, Theodore Roosevelt: The Naturalist (1956), Roosevelt began his life as a naturalist, and he ended it as a naturalist. Throughout a half century of strenuous activity his interest in wildlife, though subject to ebb and flow, was never abandoned at any time.

In the fall of 1883, bothered by a return of the asthma that had periodically plagued him throughout his youth and tired of the grind of politics (he had, after a brief stint as a graduate student at Columbia University, been elected to the State Assembly in New York), TR went on a hunting trip in the Dakota Badlands. He shot a buffalo and encountered various misadventures including miserable weather, proving along the way that he almost welcomed obstacles as a challenge. As TR suggested to his guide on the trip, Joe Ferris, It ’s dogged as does it. Ferris for his part, while initially harboring serious doubts about the hardihood of his client, in the end evaluated him as a plumb good sort.

Roosevelt’s exposure to the Badlands made a deep impression, and for the next decade he would find himself torn between a life lived close to nature in that rugged area and one devoted to national affairs back East. Before boarding a train to return home, he set in motion plans to buy a ranch, Chimney Butte, in the Badlands. He would be back in the Badlands less than a year later, and in the intervening months his life and outlook changed dramatically. His wife and mother died within hours of one another on February 14, 1884, the former succumbing to kidney disease in the aftermath of childbirth while his mother, Mittie, fell victim to typhoid fever. His diary for the day shows a black X followed by a single sentence: The light has gone out of my life.

It was in the Badlands that TR found a refuge and renewed purpose in life. He persuaded his old Maine guide and mentor, Bill Sewell, to join him as ranch manager, and in short order was, by his own calculations, well hardened. He discovered the surcease of solitude first in daily outings then in a longer trip by himself, and soon Roosevelt was planning a more ambitious adventure in Wyoming. Until his great African safari late in life, this would be TR’s longest hunt. It lasted seven weeks and he and members of his party took six elk, seven deer, three grizzlies, and 109 head of various small game, with Roosevelt meticulously recording the daily bag in his diary. This trip to the Bighorns also soothed his troubled soul, and with its conclusion he was once more ready to look back to the East, the responsibilities of public service that were a family tradition, and his destiny. Henceforth, while his mind and most of his time belonged to public affairs in the East, the West would have a firm hold on his heart.

Out of his experiences would come two of his most enduring books, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman and Ranch Life and the Hunting-Trail, while the best-known of all his outdoor books, The Wilderness Hunter, drew in part on these years. He left this period of his life determined to preserve the West that had firmly seized a corner of his soul. It is a measure of both his determination and ability that Roosevelt would, to a greater degree than any other American, be responsible for protecting this western wonderland.

After a devastating winter in the Badlands in 1886-87, one that saw TR lose most of his cattle, he reluctantly gave up the ranching life. Meanwhile, he married again, and ever a busy, boisterous individual, late in December, 1887, he hosted a dinner that led directly to the founding of the Boone and Crockett Club. He wrote its constitution, with the concept of fair chase being at the heart of its philosophy, and over the years Roosevelt would both edit and contribute to a number of the organization’s publications.

During the late 1880s and early 1890s he watched his boys grow (all would eventually become keen sportsmen) and managed to take at least one extended hunt every year. He made outings to British Columbia, the Rockies, his old haunts in the Badlands, and the Yellowstone River region. In them he was living out the plea he posited, in The Wilderness Hunter, for manliness and simplicity and delight in a vigorous outdoor life.

From the time he became the reformist police commissioner of New York City in 1895, on through his exploits with the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, election as governor of New York, and then as William McKinley ’s successful vice presidential running mate, TR experienced the busiest time of an incredibly busy life. McKinley’s death at the hands of an anarchist put him at the head of the nation, but even so, he would find a surprising amount of time to hunt.

His first hunt as president took him to Mississippi, where to his lasting chagrin he found that his guide, a highly experienced bear hunter named Holt Collier, had captured a bear and had it bound in ropes awaiting a presidential shot. TR bluntly refused to have in part in such a charade, and from this the Teddy bear fad was born. Disgusted with the whole affair, which would be a source of embarrassment for the remainder of his life (and a major factor in the widespread use of the nickname he detested), Roosevelt took the ethically appropriate path.

Other aspects of his two terms as president (he was elected in his own right after completing McKinley’s term) associated with sport and conservation were far more satisfying. He traveled to Yosemite with the great naturalist, John Muir, and made a similar trip to Yellowstone with another noted conservationist/writer, John Burroughs. More significant, however, were his concrete accomplishments in promoting conservation. He founded the Forest Service and persuaded Gifford Pinchot to serve as its first director. Both men fully understood that their mission involved conserving, with practical use by hunters and others, not mindless preservation with no provision whatsoever for sensible utilization of natural resources. TR also signed bills creating five new national parks, established game reserves and the National Bison Range, and in general instilled in the American populace awareness of the importance of protecting wildlife and habitat. Unquestionably his work as a conservationist looms large among his many legacies to posterity.

While president, TR hunted regularly—taking a wild turkey in Virginia and a bear in Louisiana; coursing after wolves, coyotes, and foxes in several states; killing rattlesnakes and wolves in Oklahoma; and chasing bears and bobcats in Colorado. He also regularly entertained noted sportsmen, ranging from fellow members of the Boone and Crockett Club to renowned foreign hunters such as Fred Selous, at the White House.

As his second term drew toward an end, he began thinking about and then planning a grand African safari. His papers contain correspondence with a number of individuals—Selous, J. H. Patterson, Carl Akeley, Edward North Buxton, and R. J. Cuninghame—who knew the continent well. Andrew Carnegie helped subsidize the safari, and TR contracted with Scribner’s Magazine to write a series of articles about it.

The undertaking was a striking success from start to finish. Accompanied by his son, Kermit, Roosevelt bagged Africa’s Big Five along with an incredible variety of lesser game. His experiences are fully detailed in African Game Trails (1910) and the two-volume Life-Histories of African Game Animals (with Edmund Heller, 1914). Altogether the hunters and scientists involved in the expedition collected 4,897 mammals, some 2,000 reptiles, 500 fish, and 4,000 birds, not to mention numerous invertebrates. The holding, one of the most important of its kind, went to the Smithsonian.

The end of the African safari was a bittersweet one, but in 1913 TR, despite having lost all vestiges of sight in his left eye, nonetheless planned a final expedition to Brazil’s storied River of Doubt. It was, as he put it, a last chance to be a boy. The journey, described in Through the Brazilian Wilderness (1914), was what TR reckoned a thorough success. Nonetheless, it took its toll on the aging giant. He was injured in a canoe accident, and when the party emerged from the jungle he was lame, utterly exhausted, and had lost 35 pounds. Still he was at peace with himself as only a bone-weary, inwardly happy sportsman can be.

The Great War brought great tragedy to the Roosevelt family. His son, Quentin, died in aerial combat late in the war, and James Amos, TR’s beloved butler and bodyguard, said the death of Quinikins left his father a changed man eating his heart out. To make matters worse, TR suffered a severe attack of jungle fever, a holdover from his earlier adventures in the tropics. It left him with limited mobility and some deafness, but characteristically, even when warned he might spend the remainder of his life in a wheelchair, he shrugged it off and said, All right, I can work that way.

Late in 1918, TR was once more quite ill. He rallied briefly with the New Year, and on January 5 worked a full eleven hours. At bedtime though, he told his wife, Edith, that he had such a strange feeling. He died that night in his sleep, and his son, Archibald, at home recuperating from wounds suffered on the Western Front, cabled family members and friends: The old Lion is dead.

Thus ended what TR had often called the great adventure. For him, all of life was an ongoing adventure, and he characterized those who dared to be adventurous as torch-bearers. He was in the forefront of those carrying the flame, and nowhere was that more obvious than in his efforts as a hunter, naturalist, and advocate of protecting the nation’s natural resources for enjoyment and use by future generations.

Roosevelt remains the only American president to have had a true sense and a sure feel for balancing human and environmental needs. He left a lasting, romantic legacy, one that places today’s lovers of nature, whether their outlook is that of Thoreau or of hunters like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, deeply in his debt. He lived, with incredibly fullness, the strenuous life in which he so staunchly believed. Even today, a full four score years and more later, TR’s legacy inspires us and his joie de vivre invigorates us. To join him vicariously, in the pages of his many books on the outdoors, is to savor his inspiration and share the invigoration that moved a masterful writer and a genuinely great American.

Reprinted with permission of the author. Jim Casada has written or edited more than forty books. Readers can order his books by going to his website, www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com. His website offers a free monthly e-newsletter.

A Man-Killing Bear

THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Almost every trapper past middle age who has spent his life in the wilderness has stories to tell about exceptionally savage bears. One of these stories was told in my ranch house one winter evening by an old mountain hunter, clad in fur cap, buckskin hunting shirt and leather trousers, who had come to my ranch at nightfall, when the cowboys were returning from their day’s labor.

The old fellow, who was known by the nickname of Buckskin, had camped for several months in the Bad Lands but a score of miles away from my ranch. Most of his previous life had been spent among the main chains of the Rockies. After supper the conversation drifted to bears, always a favorite subject of talk in frontier cabins, and some of my men began to recount their own adventures with these great, clumsy-looking beasts.

This at once aroused the trapper’s interest. He soon had the conversation to himself, telling us story after story of the bears he had killed and the escapes he had met with in battling against them.

In particular he told us of one bear which, many years before, had killed the partner with whom at the time he was trapping.

The two men were camped in a high mountain valley in northwestern Wyoming, their camp being pitched at the edge of a park country—that is, a region where large glades and groves of tall evergreen trees alternate.

They had been trapping beaver, the animal which, on account of its abundance and the value of the fur, was more eagerly followed than any other by the old-time plains and mountain trappers. They had with them four shaggy pack ponies, such as most of these hunters use, and as these ponies were not needed at the moment, they had been turned loose to shift for themselves in the open glade country.

Late one evening three of the ponies surprised the trappers by galloping up to the campfire and there halting. The fourth did not make his appearance. The trappers knew that some wild beast must have assailed the animals and had probably caught one and caused the others to flee toward the place which they had learned to associate with safety.

Before dawn the next morning the two men started off to look for the lost horse. They skirted several great glades, following the tracks of the ponies that had come to the fire the previous evening. Two miles away, at the edge of a tall pine wood, they found the body of the lost horse, already partially eaten.

The tracks round about showed that the assailant was a grizzly of uncommon size, which had evidently jumped at the horses just after dusk, as they fed up to the edge of the woods. The owner of the horse decided to wait by the carcass for the bear’s return, while old Buckskin went off to do the day’s work in looking after traps, and the like. Buckskin was absent all day, and reached camp after nightfall. His friend had come in ahead of him, having waited in vain for the bear. As there was no moon he had not thought it worthwhile to stay by the bait during the night.

The next morning they returned to the carcass and found that the bear had returned and eaten his full, after which he had lumbered off up the hillside. They took up his tracks and followed him for some three hours; but the wary old brute was not to be surprised. When they at last reached the spot where he had made his bed, it was only to find that he must have heard them as they approached, for he had evidently left in a great hurry.

After following the roused animal for some distance they found they could not overtake him. He was in an ugly mood, and kept halting every mile or so to walk to and fro, bite and break down the saplings, and paw the earth and dead logs; but in spite of this bullying he would not absolutely await their approach, but always shambled off before they came in sight.

At last they decided to abandon the pursuit. They then separated, each to make an afternoon’s hunt and return to camp by his own way.

Our friend reached camp at dusk, but his partner did not turn up that evening at all. However, it was nothing unusual for either one of the two to be off for a night, and Buckskin thought little of it.

Next morning he again hunted all day, and returned to camp fully expecting to see his friend there, but found no sign of him. The second night passed, still without his coming in.

The morning after, the old fellow became uneasy and started to hunt him up. All that day he searched in vain, and when, on coming back to camp, there was still no trace of him, he was sure that some accident had happened.

The next morning he went back to the pine grove in which they had separated on leaving the trail of the bear. His friend had worn hobnail boots instead of moccasins, and this made it much easier to follow his tracks. With some difficulty the old hunter traced him for some four miles, until he came to a rocky stretch of country, where all sign of the footprints disappeared.

However, he was a little startled to observe footprints of a different sort. A great bear, without doubt the same one that had killed the horse, had been travelling in a course parallel to that of the man.

Apparently the beast had been lurking just in front of his two pursuers the day they followed him from the carcass; and from the character of the sign Buckskin judged that as soon as he separated from his friend, the bear had likewise turned and had begun to follow the trapper.

The bear had not followed the man into the rocky piece of ground, and when the old hunter failed in his efforts to trace up his friend, he took the trail of the bear instead.

Three-quarters of a mile on, the bear, which had so far been walking, broke into a gallop, the claws making deep scratches here and there in the patches of soft earth. The trail then led into a very thick and dark wood, and here the footprints of the man suddenly reappeared.

For some little time the old hunter was unable to make up his mind with certainty as to which one was following the other; but finally, in the decayed mold by a rotten log, he found unmistakable sign where the print of the bear’s foot overlaid that of the man. This put the matter beyond doubt. The bear was following the man.

For a couple of hours more the hunter slowly and with difficulty followed the dim trail.

The bear had apparently not cared to close in, but had slouched along some distance behind the man. Then in a marshy thicket where a mountain stream came down, the end had come.

Evidently at this place the man, still unconscious that he was followed, had turned and gone upward, and the bear, altering his course to an oblique angle, had intercepted him, making his rush just as he came through a patch of low willows. The body of the man lay under the willow branches beside the brook, terribly torn and disfigured.

Evidently the bear had rushed at him so quickly that he could not fire his gun, and had killed him with its powerful jaws. The unfortunate man’s body was almost torn to pieces. The killing had evidently been done purely for malice, for the remains were uneaten, nor had the bear returned to them.

Angry and horrified at his friend’s fate, old Buckskin spent the next two days in looking carefully through the neighboring groves for fresh tracks of the cunning and savage monster. At last he found an open spot of ground where the brute was evidently fond of sunning himself in the early morning, and to this spot the hunter returned before dawn the following day.

He did not have long to wait. By sunrise a slight crackling of the thick undergrowth told him that the bear was approaching. A few minutes afterward the brute appeared. It was a large beast with a poor coat, its head scarred by teeth and claw marks gained in many a combat with others of its own kind.

It came boldly into the opening and lay down, but for some time kept turning its head from side to side so that no shot could be obtained.

At last, growing impatient, the hunter broke a stick. Instantly the bear swung his head around sidewise, and in another moment a bullet crashed into its skull at the base of the ear, and the huge body fell limply over on its side, lifeless.

Old Ephraim

THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Few bears are found in the immediate neighborhood of my ranch; and though I have once or twice seen their tracks in the Bad Lands, I have never had any experience with the animals themselves except during the elk-hunting trip on the Bighorn Mountains.

The grizzly bear undoubtedly comes in the category of dangerous game, and is, perhaps, the only animal in the United States that can be fairly so placed, unless we count the few jaguars found north of the Rio Grande. But the danger of hunting the grizzly has been greatly exaggerated, and the sport is certainly very much safer than it was at the beginning of this century. The first hunters who came into contact with this great bear were men belonging to that hardy and adventurous class of backwoodsmen which had filled the wild country between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi. These men carried but one weapon: the long-barrelled, small-bored pea-rifle, whose bullets ran seventy to the pound, the amount of powder and lead being a little less than that contained in the cartridge of a thirty-twocalibre Winchester. In the eastern states almost all the hunting was done in the woodland; the shots were mostly obtained at short distance, and deer and black bear were the largest game; moreover, the pea-rifles were marvellously accurate for close range, and their owners were famed the world over for their skill as marksmen. Thus these rifles had so far proved plenty good enough for the work they had to do, and indeed had done excellent service as military weapons in the ferocious wars that the men of the border carried on with their Indian neighbors, and even in conflict with more civilized foes, as at the battles of Kings’ Mountain and New Orleans. But when the restless frontiersmen pressed out over the Western plains, they encountered in the grizzly a beast of far greater bulk and more savage temper than any of those found in the Eastern woods, and their small-bore rifles were utterly inadequate weapons with which to cope with him. It is small wonder that he was considered by them to be almost invulnerable, and extraordinarily tenacious of life. He would be a most unpleasant antagonist now to a man armed only with a thirty-two-calibre rifle that carried but a single shot and was loaded at the muzzle. A rifle, to be of use in this sport, should carry a ball weighing from half an ounce to an ounce. With the old pea-rifles the shot had to be in the eye or heart; and accidents to the hunter were very common. But the introduction of heavy breech-loading repeaters has greatly lessened the danger, even in the very few and far-off places where the grizzlies are as ferocious as formerly. For nowadays these great bears are undoubtedly much better aware of the death-dealing power of men, and, as a consequence, much less fierce, than was the case with their forefathers, who so unhesitatingly attacked the early Western travellers and explorers. Constant contact with rifle-carrying hunters, for a period extending over many generations of bear life, has taught the grizzly by bitter experience that man is his undoubted overlord, as far as fighting goes; and this knowledge has become an hereditary characteristic. No grizzly will assail a man now unprovoked, and one will almost always rather run than fight; though if he is wounded or thinks himself cornered he will attack his foes with a headlong, reckless fury that renders him one of the most dangerous of wild beasts. The ferocity of all wild animals depends largely upon the amount of resistance they are accustomed to meet with, and the quantity of molestation to which they are subjected.

The change in the grizzly’s character during the last half-century has been precisely paralleled by the change in the characters of its Northern cousin, the polar bear, and of the South African lion. When the Dutch and Scandinavian sailors first penetrated the Arctic seas, they were kept in constant dread of the white bear, who regarded a man as simply an erect variety of seal, quite as good eating as the common kind. The records of these early explorers are filled with examples of the ferocious and man-eating propensities of the polar bears; but in the accounts of most of the later Arctic expeditions, they are portrayed as having learned wisdom, and being now most anxious to keep out of the way of the hunters. A number of my sporting friends have killed white bears, and none of them were ever even charged. And in South Africa the English sportsmen and Dutch Boers have taught the lion to be a very different creature from what it was when the first white man reached that continent. If the Indian tiger had been a native of the United States, it would now be one of the most shy of beasts. Of late years our estimate of the grizzly’s ferocity has been lowered; and we no longer accept the tales of uneducated hunters as being proper authority by which to judge it. But we should make a parallel reduction in the cases of many foreign animals and their describers. Take, for example, that purely melodramatic beast, the North African lion, as portrayed by Jules Gérard, who bombastically describes himself as "le tueur des lions."Gérard’s accounts are self-evidently in large part fictitious, while, if true, they would prove less for the bravery of the lion than for the phenomenal cowardice, incapacity, and bad marksmanship of the Algerian Arabs. Doubtless Gérard was a great hunter; but so is many a Western plainsman, whose account of the grizzlies he has killed would be wholly untrustworthy. Take, for instance, the following from page 223 of La Chasse au Lion: The inhabitants had assembled one day to the number of two or three hundred, with the object of killing (the lion) or driving it out of the country. The attack took place at sunrise; at midday five hundred cartridges had been expended; the Arabs carried off one of their number dead and six wounded, and the lion remained master of the field of battle. Now, if three hundred men could fire five hundred shots at a lion without hurting him, it merely shows that they were wholly incapable of hurting anything, or else that M. Gérard was more expert with the long-bow than with the rifle. Gérard’s whole book is filled with equally preposterous nonsense; yet a great many people seriously accept this same book as trustworthy authority for the manners and ferocity of the North African lion. It would be quite as sensible to accept M. Jules Verne’s stories as being valuable contributions to science. A good deal of the lion’s reputation is built upon just such stuff.

How the prowess of the grizzly compares with that of the lion or tiger would be hard to say; I have never shot either of the latter myself, and my brother, who has killed tigers in India, has never had a chance at a grizzly. Any one of the big bears we killed on the mountains would, I should think, have been able to make short work of either a lion or a tiger; for the grizzly is greatly superior in bulk and muscular power to either of the great cats, and its teeth are as large as theirs, while its claws, though blunter, are much longer; nevertheless, I believe that a lion or a tiger would be fully as dangerous to a hunter or other human being, on account of the superior speed of its charge, the lightning-like rapidity of its movements, and its apparently sharper senses. Still, after all is said, the man should have a thoroughly trustworthy weapon and a fairly cool head, who would follow into its own haunts and slay grim Old Ephraim.

A grizzly will only fight if wounded or cornered, or, at least, if he thinks himself cornered. If a man by accident stumbles on to one close up, he’s almost certain to be attacked really more from fear than from any other motive; exactly the same reason that makes a rattlesnake strike at a passer-by. I have personally known of but one instance of a grizzly turning on a hunter before being wounded. This happened to a friend of mine, a Californian ranchman, who, with two or three of his men, was following a bear that had carried off one of his sheep. They got the bear into a cleft in the mountain from which there was no escape, and he suddenly charged back through the line of his pursuers, struck down one of the horsemen, seized the arm of the man in his jaws and broke it as if it had been a pipe-stem, and was only killed after a most lively fight, in which, by repeated charges, he at one time drove every one of his assailants off the field.

But two instances have come to my personal knowledge where a man has been killed by a grizzly. One was that of a hunter at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains who had chased a large bear and finally wounded him. The animal turned at once and came straight at the man, whose second shot missed. The bear then closed and passed on, after striking only a single blow; yet that one blow, given with all the power of its thick, immensely muscular forearm, armed with nails as strong as so many hooked steel spikes, tore out the man’s collar-bone and snapped through three or four ribs. He never recovered from the shock, and died that night.

The other instance occurred to a neighbor of mine—who has a small ranch on the Little Missouri—two or three years ago. He was out on a mining trip, and was prospecting with two other men near the headwater of the Little Missouri, in the Black Hills country. They were walking down along the river, and came to a point of land thrust out into it, which was densely covered with brush and fallen timber. Two of the party walked round by the edge of the stream; but the third, a German, and a very powerful fellow, followed a well-beaten game trail, leading through the bushy point. When they were some forty yards apart the two men heard an agonized shout from the German, and at the same time the loud coughing growl, or roar, of a bear. They turned just in time to see their companion struck a terrible blow on the head by a grizzly, which must have been roused from its lair by his almost stepping on it; so close was it that he had no time to fire his rifle, but merely held it up over his head as a guard. Of course, it was struck down, the claws of the great brute at the same time shattering his skull like an eggshell. Yet the man staggered on some ten feet before he fell; but when he did he never spoke or moved again. The two others killed the bear after a short brisk struggle as he was in the midst of a most determined charge.

In 1872, near Fort Wingate, New Mexico, two soldiers of a cavalry regiment came to their death at the claws of a grizzly bear. The army surgeon who attended them told me the particulars, as far as they were known. The men were mail-carriers, and one day did not come in at the appointed time. Next day a relief party was sent out to look for them, and after some search found the bodies of both, as well as that of one of the horses. One of the men still showed signs of life; he came to his senses before dying, and told the story. They had seen a grizzly, and pursued it on horseback with their Spencer rifles. On coming close, one had fired into its side, when it turned with marvellous quickness for so large and unwieldy an animal, and struck down the horse, at the same time inflicting a ghastly wound on the rider. The other man dismounted and came up to the rescue of his companion. The bear then left the latter and attacked the other. Although hit by the bullet, it charged home and threw the man down, and then lay on him and deliberately bit him to death, while his groans and cries were frightful to hear. Afterward it walked off into the bushes without again offering to molest the already mortally wounded victim of its first assault.

At certain times the grizzly works a good deal of havoc among the herds of the stockmen. A friend of mine, a ranchman in Montana, told me that one fall bears became very plenty around his ranches, and caused him severe loss, killing with ease even full-grown beef-steers. But one of them once found his intended quarry too much for him. My friend had a stocky, rather vicious range stallion, which had been grazing one day near a small thicket of bushes, and, towards evening, came galloping in with three or four gashes in his haunch, that looked as if they had been cut with a dull axe. The cowboys knew at once that he had been assailed by a bear, and rode off to the thicket near which he had been feeding. Sure enough, a bear, evidently in a very bad temper, sallied out as soon as the thicket was surrounded, and, after a spirited fight and a succession of charges, was killed. On examination, it was found that his under jaw was broken, and part of his face smashed in, evidently by the stallion’s hoofs. The horse had been feeding when the bear leaped out at him, but failed to kill at the first stroke; then the horse lashed out behind, and not only freed himself, but also severely damaged his opponent.

Doubtless the grizzly could be hunted to advantage with dogs, which would not, of course, be expected to seize him, but simply to find and bay him, and distract his attention by barking and nipping. Occasionally, a bear can be caught in the open and killed with the aid of horses. But nine times out of ten the only way to get one is to put on moccasins and still-hunt it in its own haunts, shooting it at close quarters. Either its tracks should be followed until the bed wherein it lies during the day is found, or a given locality in which it is known to exist should be carefully beaten through, or else a bait should be left out, and a watch kept on it to catch the bear when he has come to visit it.

For some days after our arrival on the Bighorn range we did not come across any grizzly.

Although it was still early in September, the weather was cool and pleasant, the nights being frosty; and every two or three days there was a flurry of light snow, which rendered the labor of tracking much more easy. Indeed, throughout our stay on the mountains, the peaks were snowcapped almost all the time. Our fare was excellent, consisting of elk venison, mountain grouse, and small trout—the last caught in one of the beautiful little lakes that lay almost up by timber line. To us, who had for weeks been accustomed to make small fires from dried brush, or from sage-brush roots, which we dug out of the ground, it was a treat to sit at night before the roaring and crackling pine logs; as the old teamster quaintly put it, we had at last come to a land where the wood grew on trees. There were plenty of black-tail deer in the woods, and we came across a number of bands of cow and calf elk, or of young bulls; but after several days’ hunting we were still without any head worth taking home, and had seen no sign of grizzly, which was the game we were especially anxious to kill; for neither Merrifield nor I had ever seen a wild bear alive.

Sometimes we hunted in company; sometimes each of us went out alone; the teamster, of course, remaining in to guard camp and cook. One day we had separated; I reached camp early in the afternoon, and waited a couple of hours before Merrifield put in an appearance.

At last I heard a shout—the familiar long-drawn Eikoh-h-h of the cattlemen—and he came in sight galloping at speed down an open glade, and waving his hat, evidently having had good luck; and when he reined in his small, wiry, cow-pony, we saw that he had packed behind his saddle the fine, glossy pelt of a black bear. Better still, he announced that he had been off about ten miles to a perfect tangle of ravines and valleys where bear sign was very thick; and not of black bear either, but of grizzly. The black bear (the only one we got on the mountains) he had run across by accident, while riding up a valley in which there was a patch of dead timber grown up with berry bushes. He noticed a black object which he first took to be a stump; for during the past few days we had each of us made one or two clever stalks up to charred logs, which our imagination converted into bears. On coming near, however, the object suddenly took to its heels; he followed over frightful ground at the pony’s best pace, until it stumbled and fell down. By this time he was close on the bear, which had just reached the edge of the wood. Picking himself up, he rushed after it, hearing it growling ahead of him; after running some fifty yards the sound stopped, and he stood still listening. He saw and heard nothing, until he happened to cast his eyes upwards, and there was the bear, almost overhead, and about twenty-five feet up a tree; and in as many seconds afterwards it came down to the ground with a bounce, stone dead. It was a young bear, in its second year, and had probably never before seen a man, which accounted for the ease with which it was treed and taken. One minor result of the encounter was to convince Merrifield—the list of whose faults did not include lack of self-confidence—that he could run down any bear; in consequence of which idea we on more than one subsequent occasion went through a good deal of violent exertion.

Merrifield’s tale made me decide to shift camp at once, and go over to the spot where the bear tracks were so plenty. Next morning we were off, and by noon pitched camp by a clear brook, in a valley with steep, wooded sides, but with good feed for the horses in the open bottom. We rigged the canvas wagon-sheet into a small tent, sheltered by the trees from the wind, and piled great pine logs near by where we wished to place the fire; for a night camp in the sharp fall weather is cold and dreary unless there is a roaring blaze of flame in front of the tent.

That afternoon we again went out, and I shot a fine bull elk. I came home alone toward nightfall, walking through a reach of burnt forest, where there was nothing but charred tree-trunks and black mould. When nearly through it I came across the huge, half-human footprints of a great grizzly, which must have passed by within a few minutes. It gave me rather an eerie feeling in the silent, lonely woods, to see for the first time the unmistakable proofs that I was in the home of the mighty lord of the wilderness. I followed the tracks in the fading twilight until it became too dark to see them any longer, and then shouldered my rifle and walked back to camp.

That evening we almost had a visit from one of the animals we were after. Several times we had heard at night the musical calling of the bull elk—a sound to which no writer has yet done justice. This particular night, when we were in bed and the fire was smouldering, we were roused by a ruder noise—a kind of grunting or roaring whine, answered by the frightened snorts of the ponies. It was a bear which had evidently not seen the fire, as it came from behind the bank, and had probably been attracted by the smell of the horses. After it made out what we were, it stayed round a short while, again uttered its peculiar roaring grunt, and went off; we had seized our rifles and had run out into the woods, but in the darkness could see nothing; indeed, it was rather lucky we did not stumble across the bear, as he could have made short work of us when we were at such a disadvantage.

Next day we went off on a long tramp through the woods and along the sides of the canyons. There were plenty of berry bushes growing in clusters; and all around these there were fresh tracks of bear. But the grizzly is also a flesh-eater, and has a great liking for carrion. On visiting the place where Merrifield had killed the black bear, we found that the grizzlies had been there before us, and had utterly devoured the carcass, with cannibal relish. Hardly a scrap was left, and we turned our steps toward where lay the bull elk I had killed. It was quite late in the afternoon when we reached the place. A grizzly had evidently been at the carcass during the preceding night, for his great footprints were in the ground all around it, and the carcass itself was gnawed and torn, and partially covered with earth and leaves—for the grizzly has a curious habit of burying all of his prey that he does not at the moment need. A great many ravens had been feeding on the body, and they wheeled about over the tree-tops above us, uttering their barking croaks.

The forest was composed mainly of what are called ridge-pole pines, which grow close together, and do not branch out until the stems are thirty or forty feet from the ground. Beneath these trees we walked over a carpet of pine needles, upon which our moccasined feet made no sound. The woods seemed vast and lonely, and their silence was broken now and then by the strange noises always to be heard in the great forests, and which seem to mark the sad and everlasting unrest of the wilderness. We climbed up along the trunk of a dead tree which had toppled over until its upper branches struck in the limb crotch of another, that thus supported it at an angle half way in its fall. When above the ground far enough to prevent the bear’s smelling us, we sat still to wait for his approach; until, in the gathering gloom, we could no longer see the sights of our rifles, and could but dimly make out the carcass of the great elk. It was useless to wait longer; and we clambered down and stole out to the edge of the woods. The forest here covered one side of a steep, almost canyon-like ravine, whose other side was bare except of rock and sagebrush. Once out from under the trees there was still plenty of light, although the sun had set, and we crossed over some fifty yards to the opposite hillside, and crouched down under a bush to see if, perchance, some animal might not also leave the cover. To our right the ravine sloped downward toward the valley of the Bighorn River, and far on its other side we could catch a glimpse of the great main chain of the Rockies, their snow-peaks glinting crimson in the light of the set sun. Again we waited quietly in the growing dusk until the pine trees in our front blended into one dark, frowning mass. We saw nothing; but the wild creatures of the forest had begun to stir abroad. The owls hooted dismally from the tops of the tall trees, and two or three times a harsh wailing cry, probably the voice of some lynx or wolverine, arose from the depths of the woods. At last, as we were rising to leave, we heard the sound of the breaking of a dead stick from the spot where we knew the carcass lay. It was a sharp, sudden noise, perfectly distinct from the natural creaking and snapping of the branches; just such a sound as would be made by the tread of some heavy creature. Old Ephraim had come back to the carcass. A minute afterward, listening with strained ears, we heard him brush by some dry twigs. It was entirely too dark to go in after him; but we made up our minds that on the morrow he should be ours.

Early next morning we were over at the elk carcass, and, as we expected, found that the bear had eaten his full at it during the night. His tracks showed him to be an immense fellow, and were so fresh that we doubted if he had left long before we arrived; and we made up our minds to follow him up and try to find his lair. The bears that lived on these mountains had evidently been little disturbed; indeed, the Indians and most of the white hunters are rather chary of meddling with Old Ephraim, as the mountain men style the grizzly, unless they get him at a disadvantage; for the sport is fraught with some danger and but small profit. The bears thus seemed to have very little fear of harm, and we thought it likely that the bed of the one who had fed on the elk would not be far away.

My companion was a skilful tracker, and we took up the trail at once. For some distance it led over the soft, yielding carpet of moss and pine needles, and the footprints were quite easily made out, although we could follow them but slowly; for we had, of course, to keep a sharp lookout ahead and around us as we walked noiselessly on in the sombre half-light always prevailing under the great pine trees, through whose thickly interlacing branches stray but few beams of light, no matter how bright the sun may be outside. We made no sound ourselves, and every little sudden noise sent a thrill through me as I peered about with each sense on the alert. Two or three of the ravens that we had scared from the carcass flew overhead, croaking hoarsely; and the pine-tops moaned and sighed in the slight breeze—for pine trees seem to be ever in motion, no matter how light the wind.

After going a few hundred yards the tracks turned off on a well-beaten path made by the elk; the woods were in many places cut up by these game trails, which had often become as distinct as ordinary footpaths. The beast’s footprints were perfectly plain in the dust, and he had lumbered along up the path until near the middle of the hillside, where the ground broke away, and there were hollows and boulders. Here there had been a windfall, and the dead trees lay among the living, piled across one another in all directions; while between and around them sprouted up a thick growth of young spruces and other evergreens. The trail turned off into the tangled thicket, within which it was almost certain we would find our quarry. We could still follow the tracks, by the slight scrapes of the claws on the bark, or by the bent and broken twigs; and we advanced with noiseless caution, slowly climbing over the dead tree trunks and upturned stumps, and not letting a branch rustle or catch on our clothes. When in the middle of the thicket we crossed what was almost a breastwork of fallen logs, and Merrifield, who was leading, passed by the upright stem of a great pine. As soon as he was by it, he sank suddenly on one knee, turning half round, his face fairly aflame with excitement; and as I strode past him, with my rifle at the ready, there, not ten steps off, was the great bear, slowly rising from his bed among the young spruces. He had heard us, but apparently hardly knew exactly where or what we were, for he reared up on his haunches sideways to us. Then he saw us, and dropped down again on all fours, the shaggy hair on his neck and shoulders seeming to bristle as he turned towards us. As he sank down on his forefeet I had raised the rifle; his head was bent slightly down, and when I saw the top of the white bead fairly between his small, glittering, evil eyes, I pulled trigger. Half rising up, the huge beast fell over on his side in the death throes, the ball having gone into his brain, striking as fairly between the eyes as if the distance had been measured by a carpenter’s rule.

The whole thing was over in twenty seconds from the time I caught sight of the game; indeed, it was over so quickly that the grizzly did not have time to show fight at all or come a step toward us. It was the first I had ever seen, and I felt not a little proud, as I stood over the great brindled bulk, which lay stretched out at length in the cool shade of the evergreens. He was a monstrous fellow, much larger than any I have seen since, whether alive or brought in dead by the hunters. As near as we could estimate (for of course we had nothing with which to weigh more than very small portions) he must have weighed about twelve hundred pounds, and though this is not as large as some of his kind are said to grow in California, it is yet a very unusual size for a bear. He was a good deal heavier than any of our horses; and it was with the greatest difficulty that we were able to skin him. He must have been very old, his teeth and claws being all worn down and blunted; but nevertheless he had been living in plenty, for he was as fat as a prize hog, the layers on his back being a finger’s length in thickness. He was still in the summer coat, his hair being short, and in color a curious brindled brown, somewhat like that of certain bulldogs; while all the bears we shot afterward had the long thick winter fur, cinnamon or yellowish brown. By the way, the name of this bear has reference to its character and not to its color, and should, I suppose, be properly spelt grisly—in the sense of horrible, exactly as we speak of a grisly spectre—and not grizzly; but perhaps the latter way of spelling it is too well established to be now changed.

In killing dangerous game, steadiness is more needed than good shooting. No game is dangerous unless a man is close up, for nowadays hardly any wild beast will charge from a distance of a hundred yards, but will rather try to run off; and if a man is close it is easy enough for him to shoot straight if he does not lose his head. A bear’s brain is about the size of a pint bottle; and any one can hit a pint bottle offhand at thirty or forty feet. I have had two shots at bears at close quarters, and each time I fired into the brain, the bullet in one case striking fairly between the eyes, as told above, and in the other going in between the eye and ear. A novice at this kind of sport will find it best and safest to keep in mind the old Norse viking’s advice in reference to a long sword: If you go in close enough your sword will be long enough. If a poor shot goes in close enough he will find that he shoots straight enough.

I was very proud over my first bear; but Merrifield’s chief feeling seemed to be disappointment that the animal had not had time to show fight. He was rather a reckless fellow, and very confident in his own skill with the rifle; and he really did not seem to have any more fear of the grizzlies than if they had been so many jack-rabbits. I did not at all share his feelings, having a hearty respect for my foes’ prowess, and in following and attacking them always took all possible care to get the chances on my side. Merrifield was sincerely sorry that we never had to stand a regular charge; while on this trip we killed five grizzlies with seven bullets, and, except in the case of the she and cub spoken of farther on, each was shot about as quickly as it got sight of us. The last one we got was an old male, which was feeding on an elk carcass. We crept up to within about sixty feet, and as Merrifield had not yet killed a grizzly purely to his own gun, and I had killed three, I told him to take the shot. He at once whispered gleefully: I’ll break his leg, and we’ ll see what he’ll do! Having no ambition to be a participator

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